Friday, November 30, 2007

A win for veterans

This WAPO story explains how the decision was made in the veterans favor, and the government is shown to have been ignoring veterans hiring preferences thru back door programs.

OPM said "it does not appear possible" to use the two programs "and also comply with the veterans' preference provisions" in civil service law.

As a general practice, veterans are supposed to have an edge for federal jobs if they meet the minimum qualifications for a position. But the two special hiring programs do not evaluate and rate applicants in ways that take the veterans preference into account, officials said.

The special programs were called into question in 2005 when two veterans, David Dean and Matthew S. Olson, filed suits contending they were wrongfully passed over for jobs and non-veterans were hired instead through the Outstanding Scholar program. The Merit Systems Protection Board sided with the veterans last year after OPM had asked the board to reconsider a previous ruling in their cases.

The hiring programs grew out of a civil lawsuit brought by a group of minority job applicants who contended that they failed a written civil service test because it was biased. In 1981, the government entered into a consent decree, known as Luevano, that established the two programs.

They were supposed to be temporary until OPM could devise new hiring methods for entry-level jobs in the professional and administrative occupations. But they became entrenched in the bureaucracy, in large part because they proved to be fast and easy ways to hire applicants.

The Outstanding Scholar program required applicants to have high baccalaureate grade-point averages or upper class rank; the Bilingual/Bicultural program required Spanish-language abilities or knowledge of Hispanic culture.

But a study conducted by the merit board in 2000 found agencies were primarily using the programs to speed up hiring rather than as a way to bring more African Americans and Hispanics into the government. White women benefited from the Outstanding Scholar program more than minorities, the study suggested.

I don't know the correct way for the federal government to hire personnel, but veterans are supposed to have job preference after leaving the nations military, many of the veterans applying for the federal jobs are also minorities, and or women, I am sure there has to be some common sense approach.

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DOD and the VA Begin Pilot Disability Evaluation System


No. 1359-07
November 29, 2007

DoD and VA Begin Pilot Disability Evaluation System

The Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently implemented a pilot test for disability cases originating at the three major military treatment facilities and the VA hospital in the national capital region. This pilot will run for one year. The leadership of DoD and VA will review pilot progress during this period to assist in determining when the program can be expanded to other locations.

The pilot will test a new DoD and VA disability system. The pilot will be a service member-centric initiative designed to eliminate the duplicative and often confusing elements of the two current disability processes of the departments. Key features of the pilot program include one medical examination and a single-sourced disability rating. One goal of the pilot is to enable service members to more effectively transition to veteran status and provide them with their VA benefits and compensation.

The DoD and VA are examining the continuum of care they provide from the point of injury through rehabilitation to community reintegration. The objectives of the pilot are to improve the timeliness, effectiveness, and transparency by integrating DoD and VA processes, eliminating duplication, and improving information provided to service members and their families.

To ensure a seamless transition of our wounded, ill, and injured from the care, benefits, and services of DoD to the VA system, the pilot will also test enhanced case management methods and identify opportunities to improve the flow of information and identification of additional resources to the service member and family. As soon as the service members in the pilot transition from the military, the VA is poised to provide benefits and compensation to these veterans.

The scope of the pilot includes all non-clinical care and administrative activities, such as case management and counseling requirements, associated with disability case processing from the point of service member referral to a military department medical evaluation board to the point of compensation and provision of benefits to veterans by the VA.

The pilot process has been developed over the last several months and is focused on recommendations that could be implemented without legislative change from the reports of the Task Force on Returning Global War on Terrorism Heroes, the Independent Review Group, the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (the Dole/Shalala Commission), and the Commission on Veterans’ Disability Benefits.

The pilot is part of a larger effort to improve care and services to our wounded, injured and ill. Some of the other ongoing initiatives include improved information technology and data sharing, facility enhancements, recruitment and retention of care professionals, new methods to care for brain injuries and mental health concerns including post-traumatic stress disorder, and the use of life long care plans to fully support wounded, ill, and injured service members from recovery through rehabilitation to community integration.

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New VA Secretary promises quick action

LTG Peake VA Secretary Nominee promises Congress qick action on the problems plaguing the VA, we have heard the same promises from every Nominee before him, The VA Colonel Jim Nicholson made the same promise, Anthony Principi before him, and they have all left the claims process backlogged worse than when they arrived, will LTG Peake be different?

VA Nominee Pledges Quick Health Reforms


WASHINGTON (AP) — Ret. Army Lt. Gen. James Peake pledged to move quickly to fix gaps in veterans' health care if confirmed as Veterans Affairs secretary, saying urgent action is needed to improve medical record-keeping and pare down the VA's monthslong delay in disability payments.

In a 28-page disclosure obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the former U.S. Army surgeon general from 2000 to 2004 also denied having "firsthand" knowledge of shoddy outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And he sought to allay concerns of possible conflicts of interest due to his position as chief medical officer of QTC Management, which has held millions of dollars of contracts with the VA.

"If confirmed, I will terminate any connection with QTC, will have no ongoing or residual financial interest in QTC and will recuse myself in any matters related to QTC," Peake wrote to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Peake, 63, took a leave of absence from QTC without pay after he was nominated by President Bush last month to head the embattled VA.

To alleviate other possible conflicts of interest, Peake also told the Senate committee that he would divest stock holdings in more than 57 companies, many of them major pharmaceutical companies such as Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bristol Myers, Medtronic, Wyeth and Pfizer, that either currently or might do business with the VA, said a Senate staffer who demanded anonymity because the information had not been made public.

The panel is scheduled to consider Peake's nomination on Wednesday.

The nomination of Peake, a medical doctor who has spent 40 years in military medicine, comes as the administration and Congress struggle to resolve some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as boosting care for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and working to pay disability checks on time.

QTC, whose board chairman is former VA Secretary Anthony Principi, provides government-outsourced occupational health, injury and disability examination services. If confirmed by the Senate, Peake would lead the government's second-largest agency with 235,000 employees in the waning months of the Bush administration.

In the questionnaire from the Senate committee, Peake pledged to improve accountability at the VA and to make care of veterans with PTSD "a very high priority" by hiring more mental health workers and boosting access to care for veterans in harder-to-reach rural areas. Stressing his former Pentagon experience, Peake also said he would work to improve coordination and record-keeping between the VA and Pentagon, which hold joint responsibility for providing care to millions of veterans.

"Timely is yesterday!" Peake wrote. "So my answer is that we need to move as quickly as possible with initiatives that do share digital data and records."

Referring to disclosures in February of poor care at Walter Reed, Peake called it "unacceptable" for soldiers to be housed in substandard facilities but said he was not personally aware of problems that might have begun during his tenure as Army surgeon general.

In March, the Army forced out Peake's successor as surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who also headed Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004.

Former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson announced his resignation in July as the Bush administration struggled to defend continuing charges of poor treatment at the Pentagon-run Walter Reed as well as VA facilities.

Addressing the VA's severe backlog of disability claims, Peake said he wanted to see the VA provide claims decisions in 125 days, rather than the roughly 180 days it now takes. Still, Peake acknowledged that there may not be easy answers and pledged to work with Congress to find answers.

Also in the questionnaire, Peake said:

_Protecting veterans' personal information will be a high priority after last year's theft of 26.5 million veterans' personal data.

_He would work to improve education benefits.

_He had an "open mind" as to calls by many veterans groups to set a guaranteed level of funding for the VA each year to avoid future shortfalls in health care.


Larry Scott --

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Georgia Republican Pleads guilty to theft of veterans memorial fund


FUND THEFT -- The District Attorney said four years in

prison is an appropriate sentence, "particularly with

the breach of public trust that's occurred in this case."

Story here...

Story below:

Learn More about how to get a VA Loan today -- Click Here

11-30-2007 -- to listen, click here...


Man pleads guilty in Oconee County veterans memorial fund theft

The Associated Press --

WATKINSVILLE, Ga. -- A man who once ran for state Senate may get prison time and a fine after pleading guilty to stealing more than $37,000 that had been donated to a veterans memorial foundation.

Jim Ivey, who was the chief financial officer for the Oconee County Veterans Memorial Foundation, had been set to go on trial next week. Instead, he pleaded guilty to 24 counts of theft by taking and agreed to a 20-year sentence for stealing money that had been donated to the foundation. The deal calls for him to serve up to four years in prison with the rest on probation.

Oconee County Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens is expected to sentence Ivey after Jan 1.

Ivey's attorney, Kim Stephens - no relation to the judge - plans to ask for the four years to be served on probation.

But District Attorney Ken Mauldin said four years in prison is an appropriate sentence, "particularly with the breach of public trust that's occurred in this case."

Ivey helped found the nonprofit committee in 2001 to build a monument to the county's fallen soldiers.

In 2004 and 2005, Ivey, who was facing financial trouble, drew more than $37,000 from the foundation, according to the indictment. Oconee officials were alerted to the withdrawals in 2005, when checks written from the foundation's account started bouncing.

Ivey apologized in December 2005 at an Oconee County Commission meeting and returned slightly less than $30,000 of the money.

A group of Oconee County residents since has reorganized the foundation with a 12-member board that must approve most spending.

Ivey, a Republican, made an unsuccessful bid for state Senate District 46 in 2000.


Larry Scott --

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

was the Veterans Administration aware of this or the IOM?

Monsanto Cover up of Agent Orange as late as 1990 I am appalled at the extent the federal government has gone to deny Vietnam Veterans, Korean DMZ Veterans, Guam Veterans, and many other bases around the world where AO was used.

I would like to say that the IOM is above this type of "ignoring evidence" but given my personal investigation into the Edgewood Arsenal experiments conducted from 1955 thru 1975 and the IOM reports ignoring critical National Institute of Health Reports on Sarin expsoure released in 1994.

The agency that is supposed to do scientific studies into wether or not veterans were hurt by exposures, then you assume they use all the evidence, not deliberately ignore KNOWN evidence, expect this shows me that this is apparently true.

Monsanto Corporation Criminal Investigation
Cover-up of Dioxin Contamination in Products
Falsification of Dioxin Health Studies
USEPA 15nov90


DATE: November 15, 1990
SUBJECT: Criminal Investigation of Monsanto Corporation - Cover-up of Dioxin Contamination in Products - Falsification of Dioxin Health Studies.
FROM: Cate Jenkins, Ph.D., Chemist Regulatory Development Branch (OS 332) Characterization and Assessment Division.
TO: John West, Special Agent in Charge Office of Criminal Investigations Center U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Building 53, Box 25227 (303) 236-5100 Kevin Guarino, Special Agent Office of Criminal Investigations National Enforcement Investigations Center, EPA

As per our meeting yesterday, I am summarizing information available to me supporting allegations of a long pattern of fraud by Monsanto Corporation. The fraud concerns 2,3,7,7-tetrachlorodibenzodi (dioxin) contamination of Monsanto's dioxin-exposed workers. You indicated that you would contact me regarding the specific documents which would be useful to your investigation.


You stated that pursuing a criminal prosecution against Monsanto would require a prior determination of the significance of the fraud. In order for proceedings to be initiated by EPA, the fraud would need to have affected the regulatory process at EPA and Monsanto would need to have knowingly submitted the falsified data and health studies to EPA in order to affect the regulatory process.

Monsanto has in fact submitted false information to EPA which directly resulted in weakened regulations under RCRA and FIFRA since these regulations do not take into account tetrachlorinated dioxin contamination in trig, tetra, and pentachlorophenols, as well as 2,4-dichlorophenol and its phenoxy acetate (2,3-D, a currently used herbicide). In addition, Monsanto's failure to report dioxin contamination of the disinfectant in Lysol has prevented any ban or other alleviation of human exposures to dioxins in this product.

The Monsanto human health studies have been submitted to EPA by Monsanto as part of public comments on proposed dioxin rules and Agency-wide dioxin health studies are continually relied upon by all offices of EPA to conclude that dioxins have not caused cancer or other health effects (other than chloracne) in humans. Thus, dioxin has been given a lesser carcinogenic potential ranking, which continues to be the basis of less stringent regulations and lesser degrees of environmental controls. The Monsanto studies in question also have been a key basis for denying compensation to Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange and their children suffering birth defects from such parental exposures. (1)

Monsanto would not be able to support a claim that independent researchers were responsible for the falsifications, because Monsanto personnel compiled all data utilized by these researchers. In addition the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences partially funded one of the Monsanto studies in question providing a basis for charges of the fraudulent use of governmental funds.


Monsanto covered-up the dioxin contamination of a wide range of its products. Monsanto either failed to report contamination, substituted false information purporting to show no contamination or submitted samples to the government for analysis which had been specially prepared so that dioxin contamination did not exist.

The earliest known effort by Monsanto to cover-up dioxin contamination of its products involved the herbicide used in Vietnam Agent Orange (2,4, 5- trichlorophenoxy acetate, 2,4,5-T). Available internal Monsanto correspondence in the 1960s shows a knowledge of this contamination and the fact that the dioxin contaminant was responsible for kidney and liver damage, as well as the skin condition chloracne."

Early internal Monsanto documents reveal that samples of 2,4,5-T and other chlorinated herbicides and chlorophenols submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1970s were "doctored." In other words, highly contaminated samples were not submitted to the government, and Monsanto samples of penta tetra-, tetra-, tri-, dichlorophenol, and associated herbicides never contained tetrachlorinated dioxins. These analyses were subsequently adopted by EPA in a 1980 publication and were used without any data from other sources as the basis for 1984 regulations under RCRA. As a result, these regulations do not control the chlorophenol phenoxy acetate products as acutely hazardous due to their contamination of tetrachlorinated dioxins.

Monsanto also submitted assertions to EPA that process chemistry would preclude the formation of tetrachlorophenol or its phenoxy acetate. Evidence from the Kemner v. Monsanto proceedings revealed that this process chemistry claimed by Monsanto was not always used. In fact, off- specification dichlorophenol, known to be contaminated with tetrachlorinated dioxin, was being used as a feedstock to make pentachlorophenol and other chlorinated products. The result of this alternate synthesis route is the introduction of dioxins as a contaminants.

EPA also relied on these "process chemistry" arguments by Monsanto as a basis for not regulating most chlorophenols and 2,4-D for their tetrachlorinated dioxin content.

Another Monsanto document introduced as evidence in the above proceedings shows cross-contamination of a range of Monsanto products with tetrachlorinated dioxins by the following mechanism: The same production equipment is used without cleaning for all chlorinated phenolic products. In 1984, when promulgating the dioxin regulations under RCRA, EPA was only made aware of the cross contamination problem in the event that 2,4-D was made on equipment previously used to make 2,4,5-T. Thus, EPA again was subverted from promulgating adequate regulations for products other than 2,4-D that were cross-contaminated with dioxins.

Members of the Canadian Parliament recently directed investigations by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and government scientist into the dioxin contamination of disinfectants such as Lysol containing Monsanto's Santophen (ortho-dichloro-para-phenol), and directed laboratory analyses of existing stocks. This disinfectant uses the ortho-dichlorophenol, discussed above, as a feedstock, which would introduce any dioxins present into the disinfectant. In a 1984 letter to the Canadian government, Monsanto asserted that their disinfectant contained no dioxin. This was later refuted by testimony by Monsanto's chemist.


As you indicated today, demonstrating criminal fraud in the epidemiological studies performed by Monsanto on its dioxin-exposed workers would necessitate bringing in appropriate groups in EPA capable of performing scientific study audits.(3) You indicated, however, that NEIC did not believe this would be a barrier to the investigation. The following are a few key instances where obvious fraud was utilized in the conduct of these studies:

Dr. Raymond Suskind at the University of Cincinnati was hired by Monsanto to study the workers at Monsanto's Nitro, West Virginia plant. Dr. Suskind stated in published studies in question that chloracne, a skin condition was the prime indicator of high human dioxin exposures, and no other health effects would be observed in the absence of this condition. Unpublished studies by Suskind, however, indicate the fallacy of this statement. No workers except those having chloracne were ever examined by Suskind or included in his study. In other words, if no workers without chloracne were ever examined for other health effects, there is no basis for asserting that chloracne was "the hallmark of dioxin intoxication."(4) These conclusions have been repeatedly utilized by EPA, the Veterans Administration, etc., to deny any causation by dioxin of health effects of exposed citizens, if these persons did not exhibit chloracne.

The results of Dr. Suskind's studies also were diluted by the fact that the exposed group contained not only individuals having chloracne (a genuine, but not the only effect of dioxin exposure), but also all workers having any type of skin condition such as chemical rash. The workers could have had no or negligible dioxin exposures, but they were included in the study as part of the heavily exposed group. This fact was revealed only by the careful reading of the published Suskind study.(5) Further, Dr. Suskind utilized statistics on the skin conditions of workers compiled by a Monsanto clerical worker, without any independent verification.(6) Dr. Suskind also covered-up the documented neurological damage from dioxin exposures. At Workers Compensation hearings, Suskind denied that the workers experienced any neurological health effects. In the Kemner, et al. v. Monsanto proceedings, however, it was revealed that Suskind had in his possession at the time examinations of the workers by Monsanto's physician, Dr. Nestman, documenting neurological health effects. In his later published study, Dr. Suskind denied the continuing documented neurological health effects suffered by the workers, falsely stating that symptoms "had cleared."

All of the Monsanto dioxin studies also suffer another fatal flaw. The purported "dioxin unexposed" control group was selected from other workers at the same Monsanto plant. An earlier court settlement revealed not only that these supposedly unexposed workers were exposed to dioxins, but also to other carcinogens. One of these carcinogens, para-amino biphenyl, was known by Monsanto to be a human carcinogen and it was also known that workers were heavily exposed.

Another Monsanto study involved independent medical examinations of surviving employees by Monsanto physicians. Several hundred former Monsanto employees were too ill to travel to participate in the study. Monsanto refused to use the attending physicians reports of the illness as part of their study, saying that it would introduce inconsistencies. Thus, any critically ill dioxin-exposed workers with cancers such as Non-Hodgkins lymphoma (associated with dioxin exposures), were conveniently excluded from the Monsanto study.

There are numerous other flaws in the Monsanto health studies. Each of these misrepresentations and falsifications always served to negate any conclusions of adverse health effects from dioxins. A careful audit of these studies by EPA's epidemiological scientists should be obtained as part of your investigation.

The false conclusions contained in the Monsanto studies have recently been refuted by the findings of a recent study by the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH). This NIOSH study, recently circulated by Dr. Marilyn Fingerhut for review, found a statistically significant increase in cancers at all sites in the Monsanto workers, when dioxin exposed workers at Monsanto and other industrial locations were examined as an aggregate group.(7)

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding documents to support your investigation, which include testimony and evidentiary documents from the on-going Kemner v Monsanto litigation, earlier litigation in West Virginia brought by the Monsanto workers, ongoing investigations by the Canadian government internal Monsanto documents, as well as documentation of the submission of the fraudulent data and studies by Monsanto to support the rulemaking process under RCRA and other EPA authorities.

CC: Admiral E. Zumwalt
Senator Thomas Daschel
Congressman Ted Weiss
American Legion
National Vietnam Veteran's Coalition
Oklahoma Agent Orange Foundation
Independent International Agent Orange Network
Vietnam Veterans of New Zealand
Greenpeace, U.S.A.
Earth First
Natural Resources Defense Council
Environmental Defense Fund
Lennart Hardell, M.D., Ph. D.
Mikael Eriksson, M.D.
Olaf Axelson, M.D.
Friedaman Rohleder, M.D.
Mike Petruska Chief, Regulatory Development Branch
Carrol G. Wills, Acting Director, NEIC, EPA/Denver


(1) The American Medical Association, concerned about the veracity of one of the Monsanto studies published in its journal, stated that a reassessment would be undertaken if the outcome of appeal of the Kenmer v. Monsanto litigation did not reverse the verdict impugning the credibility of the Monsanto studies.

(2) You indicated that NEIC would be reticent to receive documents of this nature suspected to be under a court protective order, but assured me that you would pursue legal routes to obtain them independently.

(3) You should be cautioned regarding any consultation with Dr. Renate Kimbrough at EPA regarding the review of the Monsanto studies. Dr. Kimbrough was contacted by Monsanto during the Kenmer v. Monsanto litigation and provided expert testimony, while an employee of the Centers for Disease Control, on behalf of Monsanto. Dr. Kimbrough has provided expert testimony on behalf of other defendant corporations responsible for dioxin pollution even co-authoring papers with these defendants.

(4) Suskind examined only one worker without chloracne (Mr.Kiley), and dismissed this individual's health complaints as being those of a complainer.

(5) Later studies by the Centers for Disease Control have demonstrated that any manifestation of chloracne in humans is not correlated with the blood dioxin levels. In other words, individuals with lower blood dioxin have been observed to develop chloracne, those with higher blood levels did not.

(6) The deposition of Ms. Jan Young of Monsanto, previously under a protective order, is in the process of release pursuant to a motion by Greenpeace, USA.

(7) This NIOSH study does have a inherent design weakness that would diminish the capability of detecting excess cancers. This is because Monsanto and the other dioxin-producing companies were allowed to independently select the group of dioxin-exposed workers to be studied by NIOSH.

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VA falls farther behind in claims processing

In an article published in the Miami Herald Chris Adams that it is now taking 6 days LONGER to process initial claims, than it did one year ago, so instead of getting better at helping veterans, the process is getting worse.

Gee I wonder what the VA Colonel James Nicholson is doing now, that he has left the VA worse off than when he took over in 2005.


Congress and veterans closely watch the time it takes the VA to process claims, and the agency has vowed in previous years to pick up the pace. When it was asked about its processing speed last year, for example, the VA told McClatchy that hiring new workers would help it increase production and decrease its backlog of claims in 2007.

In fact, processing time increased by an average of six days, and the backlog of pending claims rose from 377,681 to 391,257, the agency's records show.

The VA said this week that it was aggressively tackling the issue, hiring more than 1,000 workers, boosting overtime and revamping training. The agency also said it was receiving more disability claims than it had at any time in recent history, and that it had received more than it had expected in 2007.

Then here are Senator Patty Murrays comments on this:
But for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the report is more evidence that the agency hasn't been upfront with Congress about its performance or its needs.

''It is extremely frustrating to hear the song and dance that we are doing better when the reality is we are not,'' said Murray, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. ``I want to say I'm surprised. But I'm not.''

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

VA moves to rescind AO rules regarding the Haas Decisions

If they can't win in court they are just going to rewrite the rules about blue water veterans, what ever happened to a "fair deal"

[Federal Register: November 27, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 227)]
[Page 66218-66219]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
VA Adjudications Manual, M21-1; Rescission of Manual M21-1
Provisions Related To Exposure to Herbicides Based on Receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal
AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.
ACTION: Notice, with request for comments.
SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to rescind provisions of its Adjudication Procedures Manual, M21-1 (M21-1) that were found by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) not to have been properly rescinded.
DATES: Comments must be received by VA on or before January 28, 2008.
ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through; by mail or hand-delivery to the Director, Regulations Management (00REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026. Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to ``Rescission of Manual M21-1 Provisions Related to Exposure to Herbicides Based On Receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal.'' Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 273-9515 for an appointment. In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) at
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rhonda F. Ford, Chief, Regulations Staff (211D), Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420, (202) 273-7210.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rulemaking is necessitated by the opinion rendered by the CAVC in Haas v. Nicholson, 20 Vet. App. 257 (2006), notice of appeal filed, No. 07-7037 (Oct. 26, 2006). In that opinion, the CAVC concluded that certain provisions of VA's Adjudication Procedures Manual M21-1 (M21-1) were substantive provisions that had not been properly rescinded. Id. at 276-78. We have appealed Haas, and if we are successful on appeal, this rulemaking will be withdrawn. However, in the event that we do not prevail on appeal, we now take action to properly rescind the provisions.

In Haas, the CAVC held that a 1991 M21-1 provision required VA to concede that Mr. Haas had served in Vietnam, and was presumed to have been exposed to herbicides during service, because he had received the Vietnam Service Medal (VSM). Haas, 20 Vet. App. at 270-72 (quoting in full and discussing M21-1, part III, para. 4.08(k)(1)-(2) (1991)). In 2002, VA had issued a new M21-1 provision that more clearly restated the 1991 provision, advising that receipt of the VSM could indicate service on land in Vietnam but, by itself, was not proof of such service. M21-1, pt. III, para. 4.24(e)(1)-(2), change 88 (Feb. 27, 2002). However, the CAVC held that VA's 2002 revision of the M21-1 was ineffective because VA had not followed the notice and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 553(a). Haas, 270 Vet. App. at 275-78.

As interpreted by the CAVC, the 1991 M21-1 provision requires VA, in at least some circumstances, to concede service in Vietnam, and thus herbicide exposure, based merely on the receipt of the VSM, even if all other evidence indicates that the veteran did not serve on land or on inland waterways in Vietnam and therefore was exceedingly unlikely to have been exposed to herbicides as a result of Vietnam service. VA revised the M21-1 in 2002 because, although receipt of the VSM is an indication of possible service in Vietnam, it is not definitive or conclusive evidence of such service. It is inappropriate to include receipt of the VSM as a sole criterion for the presumption of exposure to herbicide agents due to service in Vietnam because a veteran may have received this medal for service in locations other than Vietnam. (The VSM was awarded to all members of the Armed Forces who served between July 3, 1965, and March 28, 1973, either: (1) In Vietnam and contiguous waters and airspace thereover; or (2) in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia, or airspace thereover, in direct support of operations in Vietnam. See Army Reg. 600-8-22, para. 2-13.) The 2002 revision was intended to clarify VA's view that receipt of the VSM does not require or permit VA to ignore other evidence indicating that a veteran did not serve in the Republic of Vietnam. Because the CAVC's interpretation of the 1991 M21-1 provision does not accord with VA's intent in issuing that provision, we propose to rescind it.

The M21-1 is an internal manual used to convey guidance to VA adjudicators. It is not intended to establish substantive rules beyond those contained in statute and regulation. Neither the 1991 nor the 2002 M21-1 provision, nor any intervening revision to such provisions, was intended to establish a substantive rule. Further, the 1991 provision was not intended to convey the rule the CAVC imputed to that provision, treating the VSM as conclusive evidence of service in Vietnam even if other evidence would support a finding that the veteran did not serve in Vietnam. However, because the CAVC held that the 1991
M21-1 provision established a substantive rule, and because that rule, as interpreted by the CAVC, is inconsistent with VA's intent, we are proposing to rescind the M21-1 provision.

we note as well that we will soon be revising Sec. 3.307(a)(6)(iii) to clarify VA's interpretation of the statutory authority governing service in Vietnam for purposes of the presumption of herbicide exposure. In view of the confusion created by the M21-1 provisions in the Haas case, we believe it is preferable to rescind the M21-1 provisions relating to proof of service in Vietnam, including the 1991 provision at issue in Haas, the 2002 clarifying revision to that provision, and intervening revisions. This will enable VA to clarify and ensure that its interpretation of the governing statutory provisions set forth in its regulation and to minimize the possibility of a perceived or unintended inconsistency based on VA's internal manual.
Hence, VA proposes to rescind the following manual provisions describing service in Vietnam for the purposes of the presumption of exposure to herbicides: M21-1, pt. III, para. 4.08(k)(1)-(2) (November 8, 1991); M21-1, pt. III, para. 4.24(g)(1)-(2), change 23 (October 6, 1993); M21-1, pt. III, para. 4.24(g)(1)-(2), change 41 (July 12, 1995); M21-1, pt. III, para. 4.24(g)(1)-(2), change 76 (June 1, 1999); M21-1, pt. III, para. 4.24(e)(1)-(2), change 88 February 27, 2002).
Approved: November 19, 2007.
Gordon H. Mansfield,
Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
[FR Doc. E7-22983 Filed 11-26-07; 8:45 am]

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 9:41 AM
To: Ney, Gerald A CIV
Subject: FW: Federal Register Notice M21-1 Provisions

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 10:30
Subject: Federal Register Notice M21-1 Provisions

This appeared in this morning's Federal Register. Interesting turn of events.

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"Keep on, Keepin' on"
Dan Cedusky, Champaign IL "Colonel Dan"
See my web site at:

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from Colonel Dan AMA on veterans healthcare article

The battle at home: Struggling for VA health care access
Veterans are encountering administrative barriers, waiting lists and staffing shortages when they try to use the VA's health system.
By David Glendinning, AMNews staff. Dec. 3, 2007.


For some veterans, the fight didn't stop on the streets of Iraq or in the mountains of Afghanistan. Despite the promise that world-class medical care would be there for them when they arrived home, some are running into a bureaucratic battlefield and a stressed system struggling to give aid.

Recent congressional and public attention has focused on access problems at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, which provides medical care to servicemen and women once they have left active duty in a time of war or an official period of hostility. Although investigators note that improvements are under way, they say the VA has a long way to go.

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Strains on the system

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Topic: The uninsured
Nearly 700,000 active-duty personnel and reservists who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan's Operation Enduring Freedom have been eligible for VA health care since 2002. More than 200,000 have sought it out so far, the Congressional Budget Office reported in October. While this represents only a small fraction of the nearly 8 million veterans from all conflicts who are enrolled, the impact of veterans from today's wars on the system is great.

Thanks to recent advances in battlefield medicine, more servicemen and women are surviving severe injuries, CBO said. But they require more costly medical care when they return. The rapid influx of new enrollees has helped strain a system that already was under pressure from caring for the veterans of yesterday's wars. In 1995, fewer than 3 million veterans received VA health services. That number had increased to 5 million last year.

Many of the resulting access problems start at the very beginning of the enrollment process, said Donna E. Shalala, PhD, president of the University of Miami and former Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary. She co-chaired a presidential commission on care for America's "wounded warriors" that convened earlier this year after news reports exposed substandard conditions and a mass of red tape at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Although the Dept. of Defense and VA need to work together to foster a patient-centered continuum of care for each veteran, the commission found evidence that returning personnel were not experiencing a smooth transition from military health care to the veterans system, Dr. Shalala said.

There are nearly 8 million veterans in the VA system.
Without designated care coordinators to plan the best treatment path for new patients, an untold number ended up lost.

In addition, injured combatants must go through two antiquated disability assessments -- one by the military and one by the VA -- to determine what treatment options are available. This means that many are forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops that might not even get them to the right place, Dr. Shalala said.

"For veterans' families to give up everything just to coordinate this care themselves is fundamentally unfair," she said. "The process is too old-fashioned. It has nothing to do with modern medicine, and we ought to be embarrassed."

The Bush administration scrambled to correct several problems identified in the commission's July report. The Defense Dept. and VA in October agreed on an initial plan to place at least 10 care coordinators at four military medical sites that often serve as the first stop for wounded veterans. The Army also announced in October the formation of "warrior transition units" consisting of primary care physicians, nurse case managers and mental health professionals that would serve a similar purpose.

But Dr. Shalala said progress is still slower than she would like, and some of the commission's recommendations would require tough congressional action. The proposal to consolidate and modernize the disability review process, for instance, quickly became mired in partisan bickering.

Delays and headaches
For veterans who make it through the VA's bureaucratic gauntlet, the care they need might not be immediately accessible or available.

The department has more than 150 hospitals and nearly 900 outpatient clinics. While the number of facilities has increased in recent years, it is not nearly enough to provide VA services everywhere in the country. Many patients in rural or remote areas must travel hundreds of miles to reach the nearest department facility -- an impossible prospect for many.

The VA has more than 150 hospitals and nearly 900 outpatient clinics.
Jeffrey Scavron, MD, a former Navy doctor who practices at a community health center in Springfield, Mass., has seen this problem firsthand. Veterans in his area can get basic services at the Northampton VA Medical Center in nearby Leeds, Mass., but often must travel to Boston or Connecticut if they need to see certain types of specialists through the system. Some simply cannot make the trip and go without the care rather than pay for it, he said.

When veterans decide to stick with the VA, the system does not always respond quickly. Advocacy groups have complained to lawmakers that some enrollees seeking appointments, non-emergency surgeries or other medical care have been placed on waiting lists when facilities have been unable to meet demand.

In recent years, Spokane (Wash.) VA Medical Center implemented waiting lists when lean federal budgets forced it to cut back on services, said Joseph M. Manley, the center's former director. At one point, more than 3,000 veterans were waiting for more than a year just to receive their initial medical appointments.

The VA strives to see all patients within 30 days of when they call for an appointment. Out of the roughly 39 million appointments processed in a year, about 4 million exceed the 30-day threshold, said Michael J. Kussman, MD, the VA's health under secretary. While this leaves room for improvement, the department is proud of its nearly 90% record, especially because these appointments are not for urgent or emergent medical situations, he said. "I'm not aware of people being hurt in any way by some of the delays."

The VA's record is disputed by the department's inspector general, who in September released an audit that found the VA analysis likely understated wait times.

Not enough doctors to go around
Some facilities have little choice but to make patients wait for treatments or to refer them elsewhere because they do not have enough medical personnel. The department has struggled, along with many private health systems, to provide quick access to such in-demand subspecialists as dermatologists, ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists, Dr. Kussman said. Mental health professionals also are at a premium, the VA reports.

Some experts on the ground say the situation can be particularly difficult for the department when it attempts to treat veterans who have complex and specialized wounds, such as traumatic brain injuries -- the signature injury of today's wars.

1.8 million veterans were uninsured in 2004, up nearly 300,000 since 2000.
The VA polytrauma rehabilitation center in Palo Alto, Calif., is touted as a flagship for taking care of the most severely wounded veterans but still faces major staffing concerns. The center works hard to attract and retain physicians and others in a very competitive market, but it has fallen short of recruitment goals for physiatrists and other medical professionals, said its director, Elizabeth Joyce Freeman.

Veterans advocacy groups say the way the VA receives federal health funding is largely to blame for many of its shortfalls. Unlike Medicare and Medicaid, which receive mandatory funding every year based on projected costs, the department gets its money from the discretionary budget. This process is much less predictable and more prone to political tinkering.

Although Congress in recent years has kept up a steady stream of funding that has satisfied many advocates, the process has not been without missteps.

The department weathered an embarrassing episode in 2005 when then-Secretary R. James Nicholson went to Congress with a request for $2.6 billion in additional funding because it had vastly underestimated the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who would require care.

The budget unpredictability makes it hard for VA facilities to plan ahead on hiring physicians or buying equipment, said Joseph A. Violante, the Disabled Veterans of America national legislative director.

Veterans can be waitlisted or shut out as a result.

"If the VA was able to get the funding on time and was able to know beforehand what that funding level was going to be, a lot of those access problems would be solved," he said.

The department opposes mandatory funding because the process would not easily adapt to changes in clinical practice or enrollee demographics, said W. Paul Kearns III, VA chief health financial officer.

Finding care outside -- or not at all
For some veterans, accessing VA health care simply will not be the best option because of their circumstances, locations or the specialized care they need. Some, especially those who plan to return to active duty, will continue to receive care from the military. Others will enroll in private insurance or receive coverage through another government program once they re-enter private life.

The department has boosted the amount it spends on private-sector care for veterans who remain enrolled in the VA but need to receive care outside the system. In fiscal year 2007, the department committed $2.2 billion out of its roughly $35 billion health budget to such fee-for-service care, a figure that has doubled since 2000.

For others, accessing VA health care is not an option at all. In 2003, the Bush administration decided to cut off new enrollment for many Priority Group 8 veterans, the department's lowest disability rating. These veterans are deemed to have sustained no service-connected disabilities and have yearly incomes that exceed predetermined limits, about $28,000 for an individual.

All combat veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are still guaranteed two years of free VA care after they return, and Priority Group 8 combat veterans who enroll during that window can keep receiving the care beyond that timeframe by making set co-payments. But those who fail to enroll in time risk losing access unless they later can prove they actually sustained a disability during their service.

Lawmakers have proposed extending the free combat veteran care from two years to five years, a move the White House supports. The Bush administration, however, opposes any plan to reopen new enrollment to non-combat Priority 8 veterans because the new enrollees would cost tens of billions over the decade and could hurt access and quality for higher priority patients, Dr. Kussman said.

But as long as this and other barriers exist, veterans who can't afford or obtain private coverage will go without needed care, said Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, a Harvard Medical School professor and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, a single-payer advocacy group. An October study she co-authored concluded that 1.8 million veterans from all conflicts were uninsured in 2004, up nearly 300,000 since 2000. Nearly half of them had not seen a physician in more than a year.

Dr. Scavron, the former Navy physician, said the uninsured veterans he sees in his clinic are evidence that the government is not fulfilling its responsibilities

"It's only the government that can take you into military service," he said. "So it seems to me that it's only the government who can take responsibility for the people that they take into service."

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Strains on the system
A higher percentage of servicemen and women are surviving injuries in today's wars than they did in the past, thanks largely to extensive body armor use, improved battlefield medicine and immediate aerial evacuation of the wounded.

In the Vietnam War, there were 5.2 wounded for every service member who died; in Iraq, that ratio is 7.6 to 1.

More Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are accessing the VA health care system each year, and the price the government pays for each patient increases:

Veterans treated Average annual
cost per patient
2005 101,000 $2,310
2006 155,000 $2,610
2007 209,000 $2,740
2008 263,000 $2,860

Note: Data for 2007 and 2008 is projected.

Source: "Projecting the Costs to Care for Veterans of U.S. Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," Congressional Budget Office, October

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How many disabled veterans does the VA have working for them?

They deleted the old facts sheet. However, as I recall only about 26% of VA employees were vets.

The new facts sheet is quoted below, Colors and comments are mine:

VA Employees

As of April 30, 2007, VA had 244,032 employees on the rolls. Among all departments and agencies of the federal government, only the Department of Defense has a larger work force. Of the total number of VA employees, 216,658 were in the Veterans Health Administration, 12,684 in the Veterans Benefits Administration, 1,562 in the National Cemetery System, 3,254 in the Veterans Canteen Service and 426 in the Revolving Supply Fund. The rest 9,448 employees are in various staff and facilities offices.

VA is a leader in hiring veterans. About 60 percent of all male employees are veterans. (Less than 50% of VA employees are male!) As of April 30, 2007, VA had 17,346 women employees who served in the U.S. armed forces. More than 24 percent of all veterans in the VA are disabled veterans (I believe that's factual) and three hold the Medal of Honor

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Citizen Journalism in the Washington Post

Washington Post article on "citizen journalists aka "Bloggers"

I wrote on this at Daily Kos today and I am going to cross post the diary here as well: enjoy

With trepidation the Washington Post published an article on "bloggers" and what impact they are having on the "news".
Storming the News Gatekeepers
On the Internet, Citizen Journalists Raise Their Voices
is the title of the article, Daily Kos even managed to get a mention
Anderson at Large is nowhere near as widely read or heavily linked as RedState or Daily Kos, the popular conservative and liberal blogs. Technorati, which tracks a site's number of links, says Anderson's blog has received 236 blog mentions, while RedState and Daily Kos, by contrast, have received 21,000 and 107,000, respectively.

Gee, with remarks like this do we think Daily Kos will be around for awhile? the link to the article sorry I forgot to add it CRS ya know?

The main body of the diary:

I don't see myself as a "citizen journalist" I am a person with a point of view, and issues that are important to me and I like to think, some other people. I tend mostly to deal with veterans issues, and how the politics affect our wallet issues, healthcare and the nations "PROMISE" to the military, that if you are "hurt or killed while on active duty" we will take care of you and your family, medically and financially, even President George W. Bush used it as a campaign slogan in 2004's election cycle we all remember "A Promise Made Is A Promise Kept" and this year we get the front page stories about Walter Reed and the VA claims system that is overwhelmed and has 800,000 claims on appeal and it takes this nations veterans 2 or more years to get a decision of their claims.

That doesn't mean the claim is decided to a veterans satisfaction, it just takes that long to be told "denied" again and then the veterans have to appeal to the Court of Veterans Appeals which in all can take 5-7 years before they get a decsion from the "final court" many times it is a "remand" which just means the VA has to relook at the medical evidence, obtain more and make another decision, which starts the "roller coaster" all over again.

I write about it, and PTSD which is a prevalent problem amongst veterans and their families, and PTSD DOES affect the entire family, not just the veteran, it touches mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, children and then it enters the workplace and the community.

The article on "citizen journalism" led me to write this response to the article and posted it online

I post at daily Kos as testvet6778 and have since 2005 I also write my own blog

Which is listed by my local paper as Military& Veterans: Politics for the Deserving which deals with issues that pertain mostly to veterans, but which we all know active duty military will become. I deal with all kinds of links to MSM and write many opinion pieces. They are probably as factual as anything Fox news produces. If memory serves me right, Fox won a lawsuit against a "journalist" in a Florida Court last year based on the facts that Fox news edited the piece and ignored facts, cut out factual pieces to slant the news the way they wanted it presented and the court sided with Fox, stating that "news" did not HAVE to contain facts to be aired. So is MSM really credible just because they are on the air waves or cable? How accurate were they on the run up to the war? What happened to objectivity? Investigative journalism is a dying art, and the nation is suffering for it, the corporate boardroom is dominating "facts" and the unwillingness to anger advertisers, for veterans and the military one of the strongest voices was Don Imus, he asked the hard questions, remember when he confronted John McCain about Walter Reed, and he asked him "don't you have eyes" couldn't you see it? He at least asked the people with influnce the right questions, and they kept coming back on his show, because he gave them air time, despite the fact he does ask "hard questions", we the citizens need the "truth" not the Faux version either, real facts and regardless of a citizen journalist gets to the core of it or a MSM reporter does, the nation wins.

It is my opinion the country is better off with sites like Daily Kos, it lets average citizens speak their piece in a way that MSM never thought about, and fellow citizens can recommend it so it gets read by many other people. The "blogosphere" like it or not is here to stay, and YES we will impact "MSM" and their influence and at times their ridicule.

This article is not "blogosphere friendly" not real smart by WAPO in my opinion.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Karl Rove blames Congress for Iraq War

With a big hat tip to TxSharon for her e mail sending me this link to her blog which has a link to Texas Blue which has the you tube clip of Charlie Rose interviewing Karl(Turdblossom)Rove only someone from Texas could think a turd like this would even float, I bet Texas wishes Rove would move somewhere else, he is embarassing to all the bulls in Texas.......

watch this inane piece of historical rewrite if you can stomach it

It is a truly astounding argument and it is divorced from reality in such a way that is almost majestic in just the scope of the willful ignorance on display. What did Congress have to vote on, if not an approval of the war Bush had been rattling sabers for? What president in history has enjoyed the legislative energy Bush did in the 107th Congress, other than Bush with the unified GOP-led 108th and 109th? The idea that the Bush administration was ever forced or coerced to do something it would rather not have during the run up to the Iraq War is patently and utterly ludicrous.

Oh, and PS: During that 107th Congress, the Senate was controlled by Democrats. So don't be surprised if Karl starts trying to shape some message for blaming the Iraq War debacle on the Democratic Senate that year.

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Fort Stewart soldier denied a Memorial Tree

This VA article took me by surprise, I have seen the trees at Fort Stewart, they started this during the First Gulf War as a way to memoralize the posts soldiers who died in service to the nation and as members of Fort Stewart, the 24th Infantry Division started the honor in 1991. The 3rd Infantry Division chose to continue this during the Iraq War.

The family members of Pfc. Ryan D. Christensen feel like they have been slapped in the face

Pfc. Ryan D. Christensen died at a South Carolina hospital on Thanksgiving Day in 2005, a victim of a bacterial infection contracted while working as a communications specialist with the 3rd Infantry Division. But since it was an illness — rather than an improvised explosive device or suicide bomber — that claimed his life, the Army has declined to plant a tree in his honor along what is known as Warriors' Walk at Fort Stewart.

"Unless you're shot or blown up, you don't get a tree," said Christensen's stepfather, Mark Detulio. "It is a major, major slap in the face."

By all accounts, Christensen should be a poster child for a war now in its fifth year of combat operations. Spurred on by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he carried a collection of photos of ground zero with him at all times and enlisted in the Army at age 19, eager to do his part to defeat terrorism.

Over less than three weeks in the fall of 2005, however, his health failed him. What began as a salmon-colored skin rash rapidly progressed into liver failure and eventually, a fatal brain hemorrhage.

"It was all so fast, especially for someone who never had a health problem," Mark Detulio said.

After months of appeals for a tree planting at Warriors' Walk, the couple received a letter from an Army official in February stating their son's death was officially considered "non-combat" related, thus making him ineligible to receive a planting.

Refusing Christensen what the family views as an entitled place of honor alongside his fellow fallen brethren has been hard to accept and complicated the grieving process.

"You just can't get any closure,"Mark Detulio said.

The no-tree edict is especially puzzling, the couple says, in contrast to dozens of support and condolence letters received from military officials and politicians, including President Bush and Army commanders.

"You can't have it both ways. You can't say, "Thank you for your service and sacrifice for your country,' and then say it's not related to combat," Suzette Detulio said. "He died because he was there."

There has been support for the effort to include Christensen in the Warriors Walk from local politicians. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., has advocated strongly for it, the Detulios say, but to no avail.

"The military has consistently come back and said, "No,' " said Smith's district director, Pidge Carroll. "We'll keep working on it, and hopefully it will come to fruition."

Most frustrating and puzzling, Carroll said, is the military's focus on the semantics separating Christensen's death from others deployed in theater.

"It's just words," she said.

Come on Army, honor the man and plant a tree in his name on Fort Stewart, if they die in service while assigned to the post it's the least you can do, why insult the families this way?

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American Medical Association Magazine Article

The AMA has an excellent article this month about VA healthcare and the Bush Administrations positions, towards Category 8 veterans (those without service connected medical issues, and whose income is over 28,000 a year) I will snip and clip a few of the most telling quotes

Thanks to recent advances in battlefield medicine, more servicemen and women are surviving severe injuries, CBO said. But they require more costly medical care when they return. The rapid influx of new enrollees has helped strain a system that already was under pressure from caring for the veterans of yesterday's wars. In 1995, fewer than 3 million veterans received VA health services. That number had increased to 5 million last year.

Many of the resulting access problems start at the very beginning of the enrollment process, said Donna E. Shalala, PhD, president of the University of Miami and former Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary. She co-chaired a presidential commission on care for America's "wounded warriors" that convened earlier this year after news reports exposed substandard conditions and a mass of red tape at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Although the Dept. of Defense and VA need to work together to foster a patient-centered continuum of care for each veteran, the commission found evidence that returning personnel were not experiencing a smooth transition from military health care to the veterans system, Dr. Shalala said.

then this is a memory most disabled veterans will NOT ever forget
Although Congress in recent years has kept up a steady stream of funding that has satisfied many advocates, the process has not been without missteps.

The department weathered an embarrassing episode in 2005 when then-Secretary R. James Nicholson went to Congress with a request for $2.6 billion in additional funding because it had vastly underestimated the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who would require care.
Washington State Senator Patty Murray attempted twice in 2005 to get the Senate to give 2 billion dollars for healthcare and PTSD, Secretary Nicholson will be forever remember stating to the Senate VA Committee "We have plenty of money" in March 2005 at a Senate VA Hearing then in June he came back hat in hand not once but twice, once for 1 billion and the second time for 1.5 billion.

Veterans can be waitlisted or shut out as a result.

"If the VA was able to get the funding on time and was able to know beforehand what that funding level was going to be, a lot of those access problems would be solved," he said.

The department opposes mandatory funding because the process would not easily adapt to changes in clinical practice or enrollee demographics, said W. Paul Kearns III, VA chief health financial officer.

I am not the smartest person in the room, but why would the agency OPPOSE mandatory funding, similar to what Medicare gets, to ensure they have the funds to treat the nations veterans, after all that is the only reason they exist, is to care for the veterans who served this nation, they are not giving out "aid" they are paying a debt we as a nation promised these men and women who served in the military, it is what is known as the "PROMISE" remember President George W Bush's 2004 campaign slogan "A Promise Made Is A Promise Kept" well it's time to keep it.

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Editorial on PTSD by the NY Post

NY Post Editorial

So it's good - for veterans, their families and everyone else - that the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs now do two screenings of veterans returning from the Persian Gulf and the Hindu Kush. Veterans are first evaluated upon their return from active duty. Then, three to six months later, they are contacted and urged to be screened again. Veterans' groups have been calling for several years for better ways to uncover and treat mental illness, and they have welcomed this new policy. It shouldn't have taken so long to get it up and running.

The new practice was adopted after a study conducted at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that examining soldiers twice may help clinicians catch far more mental health problems.

The process helps identify those who need further treatment at VA hospitals. All VA hospitals, among them the highly regarded medical center in Northport, have geared up to deal with the outcome of the new policy.

The predictable result is that the number of veterans needing health care has risen sharply. Last month, the VA said that more than 100,000 soldiers were being treated for mental health problems, half of those specifically for PTSD. In the study, initial screenings of nearly 89,000 veterans uncovered 4.4 percent needing treatment. Six months later, after a second look, the total was 11.7 percent.

The new policy addresses a problem that should have been solved long ago. Large numbers of veterans have lacked proper treatment so far. That's a great disservice to those who have served this country.

My response is quoted below:

This is a great first step in getting active duty troops treatment, there is still the problem with National Guard and reservists that go home to small towns and their regular jobs who will fall thru the cracks with this program. Then there is also the stigma attached to PTSD and many soldiers will not be fully forthcoming about the problems due to perceived weakness, distrust among fellow soldiers, the tendency to say" I don't have a problem, other people have problems, they don't react to me the way they used to, they treat me different".

But, I applaud the government finally stepping up to the plate, even if it is five years to late, they knew this was possible due to the studies of Vietnam veterans, so to throw 2 wars and not plan for mental health care, was as irresponsible as planning the invasion of Iraq, without planning the occupation.

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